Commercial CubeRover Test Shows How NASA Investments Mature Space Tech

The Astrobotic CubeRover traverses the terrain in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory regolith bin at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 10, 2020. The regolith bin simulates the mechanical properties of the Moon’s surface. NASA and Astrobotic employees put the CubeRover through a series of more than 150 mobility tests over several days to evaluate and improve wheel design. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently put a new, small robotic rover through its paces inside a 120-ton bin of regolith rock and dust that simulates the lunar surface.

The four-wheeled CubeRover rolled over dunes of abrasive dust, turned in place, and then trundled up and down steep trench walls within the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) laboratory as it performed more than 150 mobility tests. The rover’s creators, from Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, worked alongside Kennedy’s Swamp Works team, assessing the robot’s maneuverability and how its sensor, motor, and power systems operated in the dusty environment.

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Aevum Rolls Out Ravn X World’s First Autonomous Launch Vehicle & Largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

Ravn-X vehicle (Credit: Aveum)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., December 3rd, 2020 (Aevum PR)— Aevum, Inc., a provider of comprehensive space logistics and autonomous launch services for lightweight payloads, is rolling out its Ravn X Autonomous Launch Vehicle today, the world’s largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), by mass, designed to deliver satellites to space as fast as every 180 minutes. Aevum’s customer and mission partner, The United States Space Force, will also take part in the Ravn X unveiling.

Join us at 12 pm ET/9 am PT for the historic public unveiling (virtual for COVID restrictions): More details at www.aevumlaunch.com

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Astrobotic & University of Pittsburgh’s SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Teams will work together to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

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NASA Looks to Advance 3D Printing Construction Systems for the Moon and Mars

ICON illustration of a conceptual lunar base with 3D printed infrastructure, including landing pads and habitats. (Credits: ICON/SEArch+)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The process of building landing pads, habitats, and roads on the Moon will likely look different than the common construction site on Earth. Excavation robots, for one, will need to be lightweight yet capable of digging in reduced gravity. A large-scale construction system could be autonomous and equipped to work without astronauts’ help.

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NASA Receives First Lunar CubeRover from Astrobotic

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) — After three years of intensive engineering work, Astrobotic’s CubeRover is on its way to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The CubeRover is designed to provide an affordable mobile outlet for scientific instruments and other payloads to operate on the surface of the Moon. This occasion marks the first time Astrobotic’s Planetary Mobility department has delivered rover hardware to an outside entity.

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Orbit Logic Awarded AFRL/AFWERX Space Situational Awareness Planning & Analysis Contract

GREENBELT, MD (Orbit Logic PR) – Orbit Logic, a leading provider of planning and scheduling software, announced today that it has been awarded an AFWERX Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The award will enhance the Heimdall Fire Space Situational Awareness (SSA) planning solution. Heimdall Fire is an existing software solution consisting of Orbit Logic COTS software products configured for SSA observation planning.

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AFWERX Awards Accion Systems $2.25 Million Phase II SBIR Contract

Air Force Award Will Drive Advanced Development and Commercialization of Multi-Mode In-Space Propulsion System.

BOSTON, Mass., August 11, 2020 (Accion Systems PR — In-space propulsion pioneer Accion Systems announced today that it has been awarded a follow-on Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX, in partnership with Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). The award recognizes the successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contact earlier this year and exciting promise for Accion’s TILE ion electrospray propulsion for use in national security missions. 

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Earth Observant Inc. Wins Air Force Contract to Further Development of VLEO Optical Payload

SAN FRANCISCO (Earth Observant PR) — Earth Observant Inc. (EOI) received this award under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program and is working with AFWERX, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Selected from a competitive line-up of start-up companies, EOI is eager to apply the SBIR award toward advancing its vision for a VLEO satellite imaging platform.

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NASA Selects Altius Space Machines for Small Business Awards

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Altius Space Machines for two small business awards to develop interfaces that can be used by robots for assembly and maintaining structures in space.

The space agency made the awards under the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs. Each phase I award is worth $125,000.

Under the STTR award, Altius will work with Virginia Tech to develop an universal interface that can be used for assembly in space.

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NASA Selects 8 Small Business LEO Platform Utilization & Microgravity Research Proposals

Experiment sample trays on MISSE-8. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected eight proposals focused on International Space Station (ISS) utilization and microgravity research under its Small Business Research Innovation (SBIR) program.

The proposals include a new module for producing pharmaceutical crystals, a multi-material 3D printing facility, systems for the automated processing of biological samples, and other projects.

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NASA Selects Pioneer Astronautics for 3 Small Business Awards

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Pioneer Astronautics will begin development of a magnetic sail to de-orbit satellites, a magnetic system to improve rocket engine performance in low gravity, and a gas replacement system that would allow balloons to explore other planets with the assistance of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the projects for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The awards are worth up to $125,000 for as much as six months.

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Paragon Looks to Mine Ice on the Moon

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson will begin developing a cold trap for the mining of water on the moon with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Tucson-based company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award to begin work on the ISRU Collector of Ice in a Cold Lunar Environment (ICICLE). The award is worth $125,000 over six months.

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Paragon Eyes Flying a Balloon Over Venus

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With surface temperatures exceeding 470 degrees C (880 F), Venus has always been a difficult place to explore. The Soviet Union’s most successful lander, Venera 13, survived for only 127 minutes before succumbing to the heat.

Conditions in Venus’ atmosphere are more temperate. Venus’ atmospheric pressure and temperature at an altitude of 65 km (40.4 miles) are similar to those on Earth.

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NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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